November 04, 2008

Fulfilling the American Dream

For the first time ever, the United States is on the verge of electing an African-American for president. Talk about progress. Talk about living in a time when America rises to the very best it can be. There is something incredibly awesome in living in this time when we can see that the American dream has a concreteness that is undeniable. And to have a person of such talent be the right person in this place for this time is thrilling.

If Obama is elected, it means that a sizable percentage (if not a majority) of the remaining World War II generation have decided to vote for a black man. This is the generation where although African-Americans served with extreme honor and distinction in WWII, GI-Joe served in segregated units and whites never served nor knew their African-American cohorts. They grew up in a segregated time and for most of their lifetime, it was unimaginable that America would ever have a black president that represented all of America.

If Obama is elected, it means a sizeable percentage (if not a majority) of the 1950's silent generation will have pulled the lever for a black American. This is the generation that came of age during the protests of the civil rights era, the integration of the military, a Supreme Court ruling declaring that integration of the schools was required to support the Constitutional right to equal opportunity and was marked by the laws prohibiting marriage between races.

If Obama is elected, it will mean a sizeable percentage of those who grew up in the 60s and battled over Vietnam will have voted for Obama. One of the most significant speeches of that time was by Martin Luther King, Jr, who declared that his dream was to see an America that truly lived the American dream.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.

For decades, it seemed that this dream was an illusive and foolhardy goal, yet here we are, some 40+ years later actually voting for the content of a man's character over the color of his skin.

Every decade since MLK's days has built on top of the preceding one, and we've had time to let the magic of integration change our perspectives. Despite numerous challenges, delays and roadblocks to integration, Americans from all walks of life have learned to live with each other in our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods and our culture. We are no longer surprised to see qualified and well-respected African-Americans occupying positions of authority, responsibility and genuine celebrity in our communities, our companies and our government. Most Americans hold people like Bill Cosby, Oprah, Colin Powell, Tiger Woods, etc., as our heroes, exemplars and role models. We are well and truly changed for the better.

Today, it is time to celebrate that we have taken this major step to actualizing the American dream.

Yet, it is also important to recognize that too many Americans of all colors are being left behind. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said to realize our American dream, we must continue to strive to create a country "where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."

We can and must do better for the sake of all Americans.

Posted by Mary at November 4, 2008 12:09 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

I am clinging to all you have written....he should win. And if, somehow, he does not win....what could be written about what THAT says about America will require reams of paper, and gallons of tears.

Posted by: Labrys at November 4, 2008 07:23 AM

Well said Mary.

It's been pretty exciting these last few weeks for our family. My 9 year old has been totally enthralled by the campaign. Sitting with my by the computer in the evenings, falling asleep on my shoulder as I peruse the blogs. Asking questions about how our government works. About who was president when I was a kid. She was so excited today to be able to join me in the voting booth. I asked her if she wanted to push the lever for Obama/Biden. She thought about it for a second and said "No daddy, you do it." I think she was worried that she would mess up. I'm confident that Obama/Biden are going to win this. And I'm glad that her earliest memories of our political process are going to be the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

Hope you are well.

Posted by: snark at November 4, 2008 12:45 PM

Did you see the hammer & sickle communist flag being waved by Obama supporters in front of the Whitehouse on election night?

Posted by: Mickey at November 7, 2008 10:36 PM

>>For decades, it seemed that this dream was an illusive and foolhardy goal, yet here we are, some 40+ years later actually voting for the content of a man's character over the color of his skin.>>>

It took a lot of 'so-called' white folks to make this stated goal of America that ALL are created equal, etc., come to fruition ... as example, rather than just rhetoric

... that a 'so-called' 'black' person could make it to the top spot in our nation, and some say, of the world ... wow, in our lifetimes!!!

And, I think it leaves us mixed folks over joyous, at the thought that true 'mutt-ism' ... more common than thought, finally comes to the light of day ... truth that the whole human race is actually made from the same clay.

Posted by: Victoria at November 8, 2008 12:14 PM